Applications from Automobile Companies are Active
for Electric Vehicle Batteries and Hydrogen Vehicle Fuel Cells
In September, Tesla's “Battery Day” event was held amid the attention of not only automobile and battery industry officials, but also numerous investors around the world. On this day, Tesla announced plans to expand battery plants and develop technology to launch half-priced electric vehicles.
On the traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, development and production of engines and batteries belonged to the area of automobile companies and battery companies, respectively. However, as the automobile market paradigm changes with the growth of eco-friendly vehicles such as electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, the area of the automobile manufacturers is expanding to the battery field including batteries and fuel cells being the “engine” of eco-friendly vehicles.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), automobile companies are proactively filing patent applications related to eco-friendly vehicle batteries (electric-vehicle batteries and hydrogen fuel cells). The total number of battery-related patent applications by automobile companies were 4,435 cases from 2010 to 2019, an increase of 56% from the 277 cases in 2010 to the 433 cases filed in 2019. [Attachment 1]
Status of Domestic Patent Applications from Automobile Companies for Eco-Friendly Vehicle Batteries
Accordingly, the proportion of battery applications among all patent applications from automobile companies increased from 7.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2019. As the market changes from internal combustion engine vehicles to eco-friendly vehicles, this increase is interpreted as a gradually increasing proportion of research and development related to batteries, the so-called heart of eco-friendly vehicles.
Proportion of battery field applications among all patent applications from automobile companies
By company, Hyundai Motor Group accounted for 56.4% of such applications, Toyota Motor made up 27.6%, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance came in at 11.5%, and Volkswagen Group (Audi, Porsche, etc.) accounted for 2.4%, in order.
Patent Application Trend in Korea for Eco-friendly Vehicle Batteries by Automobile Companies
Tesla, the number one global electric vehicle company, accounted for only 0.25% of domestic battery patent applications by automobile companies. In the U.S., the home of electric vehicles, over the past five years (2014~2018), the top five global automobile companies* have filed patent applications for an average of 696 cases per each battery-related company, but Tesla has only filed 37 applications.
* Volkswagen Group, Toyota Motor Company, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Ford, and Hyundai Motor Group
Comparison of Status of US patent applications in the battery field for Tesla vs. 5 automobile companies
※ Automobile companies were selected based on global sales in 2019 (source: Statista 2020)
This trend is interpreted as showing that new electric automobile companies such as Tesla rely on outsourcing the batteries, which require the long-term accumulated technology of specialized battery companies, while focusing on improving the efficiency of the other aspects such as electric vehicle designs and structures instead of the batteries for the rapid growth, whereas existing automobile companies have been able to steadily develop battery technology in preparation for the era of eco-friendly vehicles based on stable sales of automobiles.
Dividing eco-friendly cars into electric cars and hydrogen cars, since 2010, automobile companies have filed patent applications for an average of 263 cases for electric vehicle batteries and 180 cases for hydrogen fuel cells. Domestic automobile companies accounted for 56.8% of hydrogen fuel cell applications, while foreign automobile companies accounted for 80.4% of electric vehicle battery applications. This seems to show a difference between domestic and foreign automobile companies in terms of their approach to future eco-friendly vehicles.
Ratio of patent applications for electric vehicle batteries and hydrogen fuel cells according to domestic and international automobile companies
The Chief of the Advanced Energy Technology Examination Division of KIPO said, "As it is predicted that the eco-friendly vehicle market is growing rapidly, the development of battery technology in the automobile industry is expected to expand continually in order to meet the explosive demand for batteries and secure price competitiveness."
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